What is sinusitis?
Sinusitis is inflammation or infection of your sinuses. Sinuses are hollow spaces located behind your cheeks, eyes, and forehead. Sinusitis is most often caused by a virus. Acute sinusitis may last up to 12 weeks. Chronic sinusitis lasts longer than 12 weeks. Recurrent sinusitis is when you have 3 or more episodes of sinusitis in 1 year.
What increases my risk for sinusitis?
- Medical conditions: An upper respiratory infection caused by a virus can increase your risk of sinusitis. Asthma or allergic rhinitis can also increase your risk. Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of your nasal airways caused by allergies. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes mucus to become thick. This can increase the risk for sinusitis.
- Tobacco use: Your risk for sinusitis is increased if you smoke cigarettes.
- Dental infections or procedures: This includes gum infections and tooth decay. It also includes tooth removal, root canal, or a tooth implant.
- Abnormal sinus structure: Any disease or condition that changes the structure of the sinuses may increase your risk of sinusitis. This includes nasal growths, swollen tonsils, or a deviated septum. A deviated septum is when the narrow wall of tissue that separates your nostrils is crooked and blocks air.
- Weak immune system: Diseases that weaken your immune system, such as diabetes or HIV, may increase your risk of sinusitis.
What are the signs and symptoms of sinusitis?
- Pain, pressure, redness, or swelling around the forehead, cheeks, or eyes
- Thick yellow or green discharge from your nose
- Tenderness when you touch your face over your sinuses
- Dry cough that happens mostly at night and when you lie down
- Headache and face pain that is worse when you lean forward
- Teeth pain or pain when you chew
How is sinusitis diagnosed?
Your caregiver will examine you and ask about your symptoms. He will check inside your nose using a nasal speculum. This is a small tool used to open your nostrils. You may need the following:
- Culture: A sample of your nose drainage may be tested to see what germ is causing your infection.
- CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your sinuses. The pictures may show an abnormal structure, growths, or sinus disease. You may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
How is sinusitis treated?
- Decongestant: This medicine relieves nose congestion.
- Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and fever. Acetaminophen is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your caregiver which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.
What are the risks of sinusitis?
The infection may spread to other parts of your body. This can cause an abscess to form inside your skull, brain, or around your eyes. You may also develop meningitis. This is inflammation of the lining of your brain and spinal cord. Without treatment, acute sinusitis may lead to chronic sinusitis.
How can I manage my symptoms?
- Drink liquids as directed: Ask your caregiver how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids will help loosen the mucus in your sinuses and help it drain.
- Inhale steam: Inhale steam from a vaporizer or a warm cup of water 20 to 30 minutes, 3 times each day. This will help you breathe easier and loosen dry mucus.
- Rinse your sinuses: Use a sinus rinse device to rinse your nasal passages with saline (salt water) solution. This will help thin the mucus in your nose. It will also help reduce swelling so you can breathe normally. Ask your caregiver how often to do this.
- Keep your head and back elevated when you sleep: Place extra pillows under your head and neck. This will help mucus drain from your sinuses.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help. Avoid secondhand smoke.
- Use heat: Heat helps decrease pain. Apply heat on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour for as many days as directed.
How can I help prevent the spread of sinusitis?
Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- Your symptoms get worse after 5 to 7 days.
- Your symptoms do not go away after 10 days.
- You have nausea and vomiting.
- Your nose is bleeding.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have vision changes, such as double vision.
- You are confused or cannot think clearly.
- You have a headache and stiff neck.
- You have trouble breathing.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.